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Internet of Things: Making it real

Posted on: Monday 1st of September 2014

According to Gartner, the ‘Internet of Things’ is now at the peak of its famous hype cycle. Big numbers are being thrown about. The number of connected objects is estimated to reach 50 billion by 2020, and the potential added value of services using the IoT is being counted in hundreds of billions of pounds per year. New business models, applications and services are expected across different sectors of the economy. In short, the Internet of Things (or ‘IoT’) has the potential to stimulate large scale investment, create new jobs and bring substantial economic growth.

But what about the practicalities? How exactly are companies supposed to make money from the Internet of Things? And what are the real operational and other barriers that need to be overcome?

In a White Paper published today, Ctrl-Shift explores these questions via a detailed look at the transport and logistics sector. The analysis is based on our work on Stride, a consortium of world-class organisations sponsored by the UK’s Technology Strategy Board, to create an Internet of Things Cluster for Smart Transport the East of England.

The White Paper, ‘The business advantage of Stride’, presents the key findings of this year-long project and outlines the business and economic case for a ‘smart’ transport ecosystem. Some important conclusions are as follows:

Personal data is the ‘filter that matters’
The term ‘Internet of Things’ can be misleading, conjuring visions of machines and objects communicating with each other without human intervention, involvement or impact. In fact, many of the ‘things’ encompassed by the Internet of Things are things being used by people and are generating data about these people and their behaviours. At the heart of many (if not all) IoT applications and uses lies personal data, and in most of these cases personal data is the filter that matters if the system is to be designed in a way that works (that fits peoples’ behaviour), that maintains trust, and so on. A simple example: Is location data data about a ‘thing’ or a person?

Surprising business opportunities will emerge
With new IoT-generated data assets come new uses of data. Initial IoT applications focused on decision-making and risk management. But the data can also be used to ‘do stuff’ such as changing a planned driving route based on information about current traffic flows, or dynamically changing diversion routes to overcome current bottlenecks. This can create new efficiencies for businesses and individuals.

Transformation requires new enablers
To achieve these transformations in business, the data needs to be ‘enabled to flow’. This requires some enablers including new data products and services (a Business opportunity in its own right), new Legislation’/regulation, as well as new Technologies. We call this the ‘BLT’ of data.

The White Paper also explores the structure of the Internet of Things transport ecosystem, looks at potentially new business models discovered during the project and details the business opportunities available to organisations. If you’d like to learn more about our work on Stride and other projects, please contact Alice.Gibbs@ctrl-shift.co.uk.